Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms May Be Confused with Common Condition

Posted by Hollie Williams on February 15th, 2017

Although among the rarer forms of cancer diagnosed in the United States, pancreatic cancer remains one of the deadliest. The disease is responsible for about 1 percent of all U.S. cancer cases reported annually, but amounts to about 7 percent of all deaths. An estimated 53,000 Americans will face down this diagnosis in the coming year while some 43,000 people will die from the disease.

With a five-year survival rate that’s less than 10 percent and recent climbs in incident rates noted, clinicians are working hard to make sure people who are at risk for this form of cancer understand the threat it poses. Obtaining an early, accurate diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can lead to potentially lifesaving interventions. The problem, however, is that there is no routine screenings available for this form of cancer. In addition, symptoms of the disease tend to be rather non-existent at onset and are readily confused with other, less troublesome conditions when they do arise.

One of the conditions that pancreatic cancer patients and their primary care doctors may confuse the disease with is simple, run-of-the-mill heartburn. Some people in the earlier stages may also notice issues such as abdominal pain, nausea, changes in bowel habits and even back pain. The onset of diabetes may also signal this cancer’s presence. Considering the multitude of other potential root causes for these symptoms, it makes sense that arriving at a cancer diagnosis can take precious time. Heartburn, for example, is a highly common condition that has a long list of potential causes, including poor dietary choices, pregnancy and acid reflux disease.

With no routine screening tool available, people who are at risk for the development of pancreatic cancer are urged to arm themselves with information about the disease and what preventative measures they can take. This form of cancer is linked to obesity, diabetes, family history and tobacco use, among other factors. Addressing risks that can be addressed may help lower the likelihood of a person developing pancreatic cancer. Knowing the potential early symptoms of the disease can also be vital. People who are at risk and experience some or all of the early signs are urged to talk to their healthcare providers.

While pancreatic cancer remains a difficult disease to detect and treat, those at risk can take steps to safeguard themselves. To find out more about personal risks, consult with a healthcare provider. People who are especially high risk may find that some screening options are available to them.

About Author

The Sandler-Kenner Foundation was started by Gregory A. Echt, M.D. and his wife, Susan T. Echt, after they lost two of their dear friends, Michael and Peter, to premature deaths from pancreatic cancer.

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Hollie Williams

About the Author

Hollie Williams
Joined: September 18th, 2015
Articles Posted: 25

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